The U.S. now has its very own COVID-19 variant and scientists believe the burgeoning strain is likely linked to the surge in cases in Los Angeles County.
Two independent research groups discovered the strain in California while seeking the more contagious, possible more deadly, British variant in the state. Although the researchers found the UK strain ― B.1.1.7 ― in scattered cases in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino counties, they weren’t expecting to discover a homegrown variant.
The California variant ― CAL.20C – was barely detectable in early October, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said. But by late December, it accounted for 24% of virus samples taken from southern California patients and about 36% of tested Los Angeles samples.